If the Worst Is Over for Real Estate, What’s Next?

The market has shaken off the “last excess valuations born of the housing bubble,” and “the worst is definitely over,” according to the January, 2012 issue of Kiplinger’s magazine. (See Patricia Mertz Esswein’s article, “What’s Ahead for Home Prices in 2012.”)

We’ll probably hear debate over that all through 2012. But what was particularly interesting about this projection was the expected result: Not that buyers would say, “Smooth sailing ahead,” and rush back into the market (there’s still unemployment and uncertainty to contend with) but that we will start seeing uneven changes among the various housing markets — price appreciation in some areas, and continued stagnation in others.

That will make it more important than ever to study your local market before attempting to buy or sell a home. People who pay too much attention to national headlines, either thinking they’re going to get a bargain or thinking their home price should have bounced back, may not only find themselves disappointed but lose out on valuable opportunities to buy or sell.

For more information on getting an accurate picture of local real estate market conditions, see Nolo’s free articles, “Listing Your House: What List Price Should You Set?” and “Home List Price: What Is a House Worth?”